Monday, September 30, 2013

Frederick Douglass's Chamber Pot

I needed a break from words! So I just now did a quick watercolor of this pretty lilac and gold chamber pot from the 1880s. Of course it wasn't crooked like my painting--doesn't it look like a half-fallen birthday cake?

__________This chamber pot is part of a matching toiletry set in the Frederick Douglass National Historical Site in Washington, D.C.
Like most American houses before the 1920s, the Douglass House did not have an indoor toilet. They would have used chamber pots at night or in bad weather and an outhouse otherwise.

I like the idea that Mr. Douglass had some prettiness in his life, who otherwise experienced so much ugliness.
For instance, he wrote in his autobiography of his enslaved mother who was a field hand hired-out all day:
"I do not recollect ever seeing my mother by the light of day. ... She would lie down with me, and get me to sleep, but long before I waked she was gone."
I would like to paint highlights from my History of Sanitation book. Maybe I will when I'm done writing it---4 days to go! (After that comes the editing, of course, but I'll get a break in between.)

Marz is reading...

...the sequel to The Shining! Just out.
She reports that little Danny has grown up and is not doing so well. Struggling with alcoholism and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).

Yes! Finally, the truth.
This soothes my soul, which is outraged whenever it recalls that Harry Potter and his little friends grow up to be... just fine. (And for some reason, this comes to mind fairly often.)
NO WAY! They would be twitchy messes, every one of them, at the very least.

Marz says I shouldn't take the ending of Harry Potter at face value. At the very end, when they're all standing on platform 9 3/4 , she says, Harry is just about to throw himself in front of the Hogwarts train.

That's more like it.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Want a Crippled, Hunchback Wire Fox Terrier?

[Update on Felix here.]

bink adopted her wire fox terrier Alfie from Wire Fox Terrier Rescue, who take in and "re-home" all wire foxes. Since August, she has been following and helping to support the Rescue of Felix, The Crippled Wire Fox Terrier: today she sent me his illustrated tale.

"Felix" is a good name--it means "lucky," you know, and if WFR hadn't taken him in he probably would have died. But I would be tempted to rename him Quasimodo: he is a hunchback who "scootches around" on his deformed back legs.

He's been through surgery and is now in rehab. It takes more than that to get a wire fox down for good: his foster person reports that Felix's latest greatest desire is to jump in the koi pond and catch fish.

Felix is up for adoption, though he's going to need lots more rehab and even more surgery.  He is also probably going to need one of those amazing doggies-on-wheels carts (links to page about caring for paralyzed dogs, includes links to wheelie manufacturers--these pictured here below are low-tech). Pretty damn amazing, if you ask me.
This is what wire fox terriers whose springs work are like. From scruffydogphotography

Saturday, September 28, 2013

What's new and exciting in my life.

Yup, I am, in fact, truly excited about my new nail clippers.

For the first time in my entire life, I didn't buy the $1.69 clippers that work more like a clamp than a clipper (You know? They clamp onto the nail's free margin––term per "nail (anatomy)"––and you use them to kind of rip it off.)

Some blogger I stumbled upon recommended this brand as a good Father's Day present. On that basis, I'd ordered some for my father, but being cash poor, not for me. My father reported that "they get the job done"--effusive praise, from my father.

Money came in recently, so I ordered some for myself. Nine dollars. They just came in the mail and I was so excited, I clipped my nails even though they were already short.
I am pleased to report they do indeed execute a sharp clean snip.
Very satisfying.

And now, back to work. All weekend. 

P.S. bink was having trouble posting comments here, so I turned the Word Verification off. Not having to read those fuzzy words is so much nicer, isn't it? And there's a spam filter--I hope that'll catch most of the robots.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Like a Striped Pair of Pants

9:46 P.M. My brain refuses to think about sanitation any one-more-minute more tonight, even pumped up by listening to Kayne West's "Love Lockdown" on repeat.

Snuck in the other room to take a pix of Marz watching the History of Country Music on youTube (looks good--it's a 4-hour documentary).

Turns out, Marz has something in common with Frederick Gustavus Burnaby as painted in his uniform as a captain in the Royal Horse Guards by James Tissot (1870). 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

"Muck and Filthe" B-Heads

The marketing dept. of the publisher I'm writing for is full of people who have their ... how shall I put it?... well, who have their Degrees in Marketing.
And they have decreed that my history of sanitation book for teens shall be called something I cannot tell you because of legal constraints (really, until the book is published, it is legally the publisher's secret), but believe me, it's lame. 
Lame, and clunky.

In truth, I didn't come up with very great titles myself, but at least they didn't sound like a bag of garbage being dragged down stairs. 

Anyway, I've now got all sorts of fun titles for chapters and B-heads (the sections within chapters), mostly drawn from quotes. 

Like Muck and Filthe, from a letter 54 London slum-dwellers wrote to the Times in 1849:

“We live in muck and filthe. We aint got no privez [privies, or outhouses], no dust bins, no drains, no water splies, and no drain or suer in the whole place. ... The Stenche of the Gully-hole is disgustin. We al of us suffur, and numbers are ill....”
And––also from 1849 (the year of a cholera epidemic)–– A Derangement of Stomach and Bowels, the words newly retired president James Polk used to describe what he suffered after he caught the cholera that would kill him.

This is my absolutely favorite quote, below. It's from the records of the London assize of nuisance (the court that heard nuisance complaints).

Seems Bad Neighbors are a staple of history, and so are do-it-yourselfers who do it wrong.

But actually, I admire this Alice Wade, who came up with her own solution to the sanitary shortfalls of medieval London. The court heard this complaint against her in 1310:
...Alice Wade has made a wooden pipe connecting the seat  of the privy in her solar [a "solitary" room], with the gutter (provided to receive the rainwater and other water draining from the houses), which is frequently stopped up by the filth therefrom, and the neighbours under whose houses the gutter runs are greatly inconvenienced by the stench. 
Judgment that she remove the pipe within 40 days etc."
--From "London assize of nuisance 1301-1431: A calendar," British History Online

The manuscript is due in ONE WEEK, so off I go!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Indoctrination v. Education

I like the way pop culture's favorite physicist champions education:
Thinking about personal meaning-making vs. fundamentalism (the whole question of how we make sense of jumbled time-space experience), I looked up  "indoctrination" from A Dictionary of Political Thought (Roger Scruton, London: Macmillan Press, 1982). 
I found it really interesting and helpful:
indoctrination. 'Indoctrination' does not mean "the transmission of doctrine," nor even education that has the transmission of doctrine as its ultimate purpose, but rather the inducement of specific beliefs and attitudes (which may lack system, cogency, or any other ingredient thought to be necessary to doctrine) by methods that are not genuinely educational, and which involve the abrogation of reason and intellectual autonomy on the part of the recipient.

All education leads to the acquisition of at least some irrational beliefs; hence we cannot distinguish genuine education from its false substitute in terms of the end result but only in terms of the methods used.
[education.  (i) In education, the rationality of the recipient is engaged. For example, he is given reasons for believing, doing and feeling things, and is not simply manipulated or bludgeoned into some finished state of unthinking acceptance of doctrine.
(ii) In education, the autonomy of the recipient is respected. He is treated as a being with responsibility for his own acts and judgements, and encouraged to view himself as such.]
Not respecting the autonomy of the recipient, indoctrination prevents the exercise of those rational faculties that it purports to develop; either the recipient remains sceptical of what he is told, or he believes it simply as dogma. 
[dogma.  In Christian theology... a truth of religion guaranteed as such by divine revelation.... it is what has to be believed if the religion is to be adopted at all. Similary in politics... {long discussion follows}.]

Indoctrination is designed to induce beliefs, whether or not they are true; 
to the extent that someone knows he is being indoctrinated, to that extent he will cease to believe what he is told without independent evidence."

I like this, but I don't agree with that last phrase at all:
a person can know she is being "manipulated or even bludgeoned" into a belief and come to believe anyway, because of emotional,  psychological pressures, with or without "independent evidence." 
 Happens in cults all the time. 

Or a person may even want to be indoctrinated, for the comfort sure and certain belief offers. 

Like John Donne, right? (Though this sonnet of his might be read as a plea for forced liberation, not forced belief. Anyway, it's related to the desire to cooperate with being bludgeoned--"battered" here---always sounded like tempura to me...)



Batter my heart, three-person'd God ; for you
As yet but knock ; breathe, shine, and seek to mend ;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy ;
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

Heart Embroidery
One-of-a-kind hand-made embroidery by the artist
cotton thread on white cotton canvas,
2004 by Andrea Dezso

Monday, September 23, 2013


I love the intertwined plant and human-made tendrils in the community garden (above).

However, in the yard here (Marz and I live in a small apartment in the house of friends), the grape vines cross the fence and pull themselves up on the lilac trees in the neighboring yard, smothering them as they go. 

Many different people live next door, but no one takes particular care of the yard, so every year or two, I go over with monster shears and hack back the vines. 
Yesterday was the day. 

It's hard fun, but vines are far from defenseless––man-o-man, are they ever well designed to thrive!––and and I came away all scratched up. The vines were in fruit too, so I also came away looking blood-spattered where grapes smeared me. (They're mostly skin and pips, so to turn them into wine or jam would be more work than it's worth.)

But it is done--this morning the bent and beleaguered lilacs are already returning to their upright position.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Saturday Night, Sunday Morning


I'm so happy to be back in (on?) the blogosphere again, after a couple years mostly off. It's so nice, catching up with old blogfriends and getting glimpses of the lives of others.

I like reading bloggers simply chatting about their daily lives;
it's like taking a walk in the autumn evening after people have turned on their indoor lights but before they've closed their curtains.
Like, shortly after I took this photo of moonrise in the community garden.

Did I mention I'm taking photos at this local garden every month? They're for the neighborhood association's annual calendar.
The 2014 calendar will be photos of 6 local community gardens, covered through the year by 6 different people.

 Taking these photos makes me realize I need a better camera than this point-and-shoot, though there'd be no point if I didn't learn how to use it, and since I haven't even learned how to use the settings on my point-and-shoot, it's probably not worth the money.

Consolidating the Pickles 

Anyway, since I'm enjoying other people's posts about their everyday goings-on, I thought I'd post more about my own. Like, I am really pleased that after a year of looking like a mop, my hair is finally long enough to pull back in a ponytail.

Marz bought me some decorative rubber bands--you can sort of see this one is black and white, like my hair:

 Also you can fuzzily see my Moomin toy (Snorkmaiden) in the background, to the left of my nose.

I am sitting at the computer first thing in the morning because I CAN NOT GET UP FROM MY CHAIR UNTIL I FINISH WRITING MY SANITATION BOOK.

Really, it's horrific, my power of procrastination. I want to tell myself that if I go to the Farmers Market, I will get right to work when I get home.
But I know this is not true, not true at all.

I got into a real shame spiral about my procrastination last night.
But then I thought, hey, I know I will get this book done, and when it's done, no one holding it will be able to tell that I did everything in my power to avoid writing it.

Also, I know I am not alone. KMH told me about some writer who said their day had consisted of consolidating the pickles in their fridge.

So, here's the Marz heading off, all color-coordinated with her bike helmet, to the Farmers Market without me this morning. ( She is modeling the de rigueur stance of Japanese girls in photos--she spent her junior year of high school in Japan.)

And now I will get back to work. No, really. I will.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Life with the Marz

These are the sort of books Marz, who grew up in a fundamentalist Christian church, leaves lying around.

The book she most highly recommends for "former fundies" and those who seek to understand them (or to further understand the process of indoctrination, found in lots of families and other groups, and how one might recover from it) is
Leaving the Fold: A Guide for Former Fundamentalists and Others Leaving their Religion [click to read a couple chapters]

She says she really likes that the author Marlene Winell grew up in a fundamentalist faith herself and ––unlike outsiders who simply condemn fundamentalism––Winell gets what's attractive about being held firmly and how well, in fact, the system does work, for people who can tolerate it.

But if it doesn't work for you, there's no room.

From Leaving the Fold

Chapter 1:
The Recovery Process
In general, leaving a cherished faith is much like the end of a marriage. The symptoms of separation are quite similar-grief, anger, guilt, depression, lowered self-esteem, and social isolation. But whereas help for divorced people is readily available, little if any assistance is available to help you to leave your religion. The familiar sources of church support are no longer there, and family members still in the fold may actually shun you. Secular friends and even therapists may not understand what you have been through. Part of the difficulty is the anxiety, the terror you may feel about having to go it alone. After having been born again, leaving your faith can feel like being lost again.

My quick sketch...

...of the Nicholas Bros., from the drawing exercise by Lynda Barry I posted a couple days back. So much fun (but I needed a bigger paper than the little sketchbook I was using).

Friday, September 20, 2013

Searching, Creative, and Generous Adventure

A friend I met on Camino said to me, "Adventure is a big part of aging well." 

I hadn't thought of it before like that, but that feels right to me. Not the "jump off cliffs" kind of adventure, necessarily. Maybe I mean "adventure" as a name for an attitude, for the feeling that we have some choice about how we experience not only what we choose to do but also what happens to us---like the resident in the nursing home who told me he liked it there, "there's always so much to do."

I shrink from anything that smells like Pollyana, but this guy didn't. He smelled like sweet barbecue sauce from the ribs he, a diabetic with an amputated leg, wasn't supposed to be eating.

I just read Cravings: Why We Can't Seem to Get Enough, by
Omar Manejwala, M.D., and he too includes ADVENTURE as a  human need (did he actually say "need"? I'm not sure and I've returned the book to the library)--a healthy option, shall we say, that helps overcome cravings. 

Not just the usual physical adventure, either: 
he includes emotional, intellectual, and spiritual adventure. 

Oh, sweet! The author, Omar Manejwala
left a comment answering my question:
"...Indeed, adventure is a need (or really a set of needs...physical adventure, emotional adventure, mental adventure etc. In Craving: Why We Can't Seem to Get Enough, I argue that if this need is not met in a healthy or spiritual way, it will be met artificially/self-destructively."
In the book, Manejwala takes a neurological look at addictions (which are all pretty much the same, he says, no matter what substance or process one is addicted to--my harmful habits are mostly around food), and then he talks about ways we can manage and creatively work around them:
It's 5 percent what you stop doing, he says, and 95 percent what you start doing. *

Today I read an interview with new Catholic pope, Francis––
 A Big Heart Open to God–– and he talks up adventure too,  and being "searching, creative and generous."
I've been wary about this pope, or any pope, after decades of authoritarian ones. But I'm starting to like this guy.

In particular this quote  from Francis goes well with one of my favorite photos of me on Camino:

  I don't believe in God (not as a force that exists independently of us humans, like gravity, anyway), but I'm culturally Catholic, in the sense that, like the pope, I believe Fellini's La Strada is a great movie, even though I haven't watched it since I was twelve, it's so devastating. 

And I believe in the value of doubt--it's the original check-and-balance. So I appreciate a leader who also says things like Francis says here:
"If a person says that he met God with total certainty and is not touched by a margin of uncertainty, then this is not good. For me, this is an important key. 
If one has the answers to all the questions—that is the proof that God is not with him. It means that he is a false prophet using religion for himself. The great leaders of the people of God, like Moses, have always left room for doubt."
*Wow---here's an interesting example of what that "5% giving up, 95% adding on" might look like---redirecting away from inevitable physical pain. 

Linda Ronstadt has just come out about living with Parkinson's Disease, a filthy disease that has taken away her ability to sing.
The first time the interviewer asks, How have you adapted to living with Parkinson's? she answers in ways you might expect: 
it's hard, Michael J. Fox is great, the irrational Christian right and politicians who block stem cell research harm us all...

And then, the second time, I thought she wasn't even answering the question. But yes, she is.

AP: How do you cope with Parkinson's?

Ronstadt: There are a couple of things that I'm really passionate about. One of them is immigration reform. They've got to do something about the laws because they're separating families, ripping families apart, setting up situations where people are permanently left out of the economic pie. They're interfering with a natural flow of humanity. Back and forth across the border has been going on for centuries. There never used to be a problem. People used to come and go. We're a nation of immigrants, and the way it's has been directed at Mexico, it's been the most hateful kind of racism.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Draw Bodies in Motion

Wanna do this with me?
Bookworm suggests this exercise from the tumblr of the wonderful Lynda Barry:

drawing bodies in motion
For those of you who are interested ...get your composition book out and try hitting pause four different times when the Nicholas Brothers are dancing. [Jumpin Jive from the movie "Stormy Weather" (1943): they come on at 1:30, after Cab Calloway sings.]

Take exactly what the pause button gives you, don’t look for a pose you feel like drawing. Try drawing them for three minutes, two minutes, one minute, 45 seconds....

Here are my 4 screencaps, which I will draw later (after I've done my writing for the day). I admit I cheated a little: I took screencaps at 1:47, 2:47, 3:47, but then I made sure to catch them jumping the splits (!) down the steps:

YouTube has a 45 min. documentary about the Nicholas Brothers too.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Cowboys Standing Around

I really like this page of sketches I drew at the State Fair (only a couple weeks ago): these guys were working in the arena during the barrel races, and they kept moving, but when they stood still, they settled into classic cowboy poses. I'm glad I could catch a bit of something I never see in my neighborhood.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Who is dreaming what story?

I snapped this compost at the community garden yesterday. 

Added note:
The sarin used in the Tokyo gas attack is the same deadly nerve poison recently used in Syria [links to fascinating article about the history of sarin, first developed in Germany in  1938].

After reading about the latest mass shooting in my country yesterday, this section of Haruki Murakami's Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche (1998) came to my mind.  He's talking about how we make sense of jumbled time-space experience by turning it into narrative, or "story":
"Humans can't live very long without some sense of a continuing story. Such stories go beyond the limited rational system (or the systematic rationality) with which you surround yourself; they are crucial keys to sharing time-experience with others.

"Now, a narrative is a story, not logic, nor ethics, nor philosophy. It is a dream you keep having, whether you realize it or not. Just as surely as you breathe, you go on ceaselessly dreaming your story. 

"And in these stories you wear two faces. You are simultaneously subject and object. You are the whole and you are a part. You are real and you are shadow. "Storyteller" and at the same time "character." It is through such multilayering of roles in our stories that we heal the loneliness of being an isolated individual in the world."

Murakami goes on to say that people who lack a healthy self-identity, "a proper ego to create a personal narrative," latch onto stories other than their own. 

They might adopt the narrative of a "master storyteller ... capable of anticipating the modd of the times," such as a cult leader, in the case of the gas attacks in the Tokyo subway in 1995.

...Or, they might adopt the story that gun ownership is a patriotic right.

What kind of narrative do we look for, he asks, if we are adopting some other story?
"If needn't be anything particularly fancy, nothing complicated, or refined. ... In fact, rather, the sketchier and simpler the better. Junk, a leftover rehash will do. Anyway, most people are tired of complex, multilayered scenarios––they are a potential letdown.

"So then, what about you? (I'm using the second person, but of course that includes me.)

"Haven't you offered up some part of your Self to someone (or something), and taken on a "narrative" in return? Haven't we entrusted some part of our personality to some greater System or Order? And if so, has not that System at some stage demanded of us some kind of "insanity"?

Is the narrative you now possess really and truly your own?"
Of course my narrative is not wholly my own. That's not necessary, or even possible--my very self-identity, for instance, includes the name that my parents gave me. 

But I'm a big fan of checks-and-balances, in personal as well as political life, and trying to see my (our) own story as if from the outside is a good practice.

For me, that's one of the things art can help with--both helping the ego work properly to create a story AND checking the ego by reminding it that it is not the Creator of Everything. 
Even photography, which for me is more passive than writing, helps me see how I impose meaning on complexity, how I make sense of time-experience.

Like, it feels useful to ask myself what this photograph portrays: 
a mess of garbage? the tragedy of decay? reassurance of the cyclical nature of life? beauty in chaos?

My mother always said I have a fundamentally merry nature, and even her suicide didn't ultimately erode that. So, yeah, I find this photo of compost hopeful: I keep dreaming that in a healthy working system, things die and decay, but life wants to live, and, with or without us, it continues.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Sunday Painting

It was chilly yesterday: I made sweet potato and black bean chili for lunch, and we (Maura, Marz, Lucinda, and Laura) had to bundle up to stay warm, water-coloring outside.

I painted this cappuccino for an old high school pal who's in prison. (She got on the wrong side of a bad addiction.)

She wrote that she makes instant coffee in her hot pot, drinks it  with powdered creamer and dreams of brewed coffee. 
You can't mail watercolor paintings or coffee (or anything that could be mixed with illegal substances) to prison, so I printed a copy for her. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Survey Question, now illustrated! (NSFW): Do you know who Burt Lancaster is?

Recognize this guy? *

OK, so, if you've been reading this blog, you know who Burt Lancaster is, 
or did you before? Anyway, for the previews I'll be writing,
I'm wondering whether people in general could answer this question:


Follow up question:

If you know who Burt Lancaster is, 
what do you know about him? 
Like, for instance, what image comes to mind? 
Please, ask your friends and family and strangers on the street 
and let me know!

(My sense is that he is less well-known than I'd thought.) 

* Up top: Burt Lancaster in The Swimmer (1968).

Below: Burt protecting his modesty (from Lee Remick) in The Hallelujah Trail (1965).

As for full-frontal pix, you can see them at the Village Voice. Yeah, NSFW, but pretty mild by today's standards.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Burt of the Day

Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner in The Killers (1947, dir. Robert Siodmak, from a short story by Ernest Hemingway)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Twelve Years On

I made this for the eighth anniversary of 9/11... can that be?
[checks] Yes, in 2009, eight years after.
One day at a time, eh?
From the Star Trek (TOS) episode "A Taste of Armageddon" (1967)

This year I want to add this quote from James Baldwin, from his 1964 essay Nothing Personal:
"For nothing is fixed, forever and forever and forever, it is not fixed; the earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock. Generations do not cease to be born, and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have.
The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out."

Nothing Personal was published with b&w photographs by Richard Avedon. I don't actually like the photos with the text, but you can see the photos here.

Oh--googling around, I see Avedon did some portraits of 9/11 workers. From the Library of Congress "Remembering 9/11" in 2011.
They're pretty cool, with the people's quotes. (click to enlarge)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Previewing Lancastic

I've signed on for a new mental adventure: writing previews for the 11 Burt Lancaster movies coming to the local 50-seater microcinema  in November (noting the 100th anniversary of Lancaster's birth in 1913.)

The first film is Criss Cross (1948): below, Burt with director Robert Siodmak and costar Yvonne DeCarlo.

I suggested this preview project to the arts editor of the TC Daily Planet ("an experiment in participatory journalism, built on a partnership between professional journalists and individual citizens"), and he said, do it!

I've actually never paid much attention to Lancaster, and I'm eager to get started... but first I have to finish the sanitation book (due Oct. 3).

Monday, September 9, 2013


My brains had started to pool in my bottom, after so much sitting at the computer: with temps near 100ºF and humidity at swamp levels, I lost my oomph for jogging, and I've barely exercised since early August--not even indoors at the YW.

This morning, it's still humid-- almost foggy --but I felt almost desperate to move a bit.
[the grape vines love the climate]
And "a bit" was all I could manage: I mostly walked a mile. But it was enough to get the sluggish system circulating.

Perhaps with our extreme weather swings in MN, jogging will simply be a two-season activity for me: spring and fall.

Friday, September 6, 2013

cold revenge

One more scavenger hunt for a phrase related to Star Trek: Wrath of Khan, having earlier rummaged around for "grapes of wrath" and "peel me a grape"––
 KHAN: "Kirk, old friend, do you know the Klingon proverb, Revenge is a dish best served cold?"
In film history, seems the sentiment first turns up in this classic:
  "Revenge is a dish which people of taste prefer to eat cold."

Someone else went hunting for the origin of the phrase and reports a funny misidentification:

The 'Nets confidently report that 'revenge is a dish best served cold' is a translation of the line "La vengeance est un plat qui se mange froide" from Choderlos de Laclos's  1782 novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses ("Dangerous Liasons"--there are several movie versions). 

As that text doesn't appear in the novel, or any other work by de Laclos, the story appears to be a piece of impressively industrious folk etymology - not only a made up source, but made up in French [...and I understand from French corresponents that the 'froide' should be 'froid' - not a mistake that de Laclos might have made]. 

So... seems it's a common saying, in general use, with no one literary source. 

Bonus: Sheldon quoting the original Klingon on the Big Bang Theory:

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Mail Art

Last century, I used to love sending (and receiving) mail art–– heavily illustrated envelopes, postcards, and the occasional odd item–– or doing collaborative projects through the post (each recipient adding something to a piece and then mailing it back for another round). 

This century I've mostly put the same kind of energy into e-communication, like here.

But now I'm off Facebook, I'm starting to mail stuff again. Just regular little things. Handling tangible stuff is such a thrill; I could imagine working up to more adventurous mail again... 

I'm definitely inspired along those lines by 'Letters to Klaus': A Publisher Shares His Illustrated Correspondence--AMB sent me a link to some of the images.

Here's one by children's book illustrator Axel Scheffler that feels fitting for the coming season.
This evening Rosh Hashanah starts! A very bookish holiday---as I understand it from the outside, you get ten days to get yourself written up right in the Book of God.  
That could spark a cool art project...

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Kirk & the Gorn Crop Art

Captain Kirk and the Gorn 
Portrait in Seeds, by Nicholas Rindo
Crop Art Exhibition at the Minnesota State Fair, 2013

 The smirk! The smirk! This should have won a blue ribbon. Even the seed card is in Star Trek lettering: